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Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Page: 9623

Immigration Detention


Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (14:13): My question is to the Minister for Employment representing the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection. Minister, I refer you to the situation on Nauru, where your government continues to detain hundreds of men, women and children in the RPC. Is your government contemplating or has your government contemplated closing the Nauru RPC?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:14): I thank Senator McKim for his question. Senator McKim, I can advise that the government is not closing the Nauru Regional Processing Centre. I can also advise that there has been no change in our policy. As the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection has stated, there will remain an enduring regional processing capacity on Nauru. Nauru has agreed to host an enduring regional processing capability, and Australia will continue to support Nauru to administer regional processing arrangements.

Senator McKim, yet again—through you, Mr President—I would say to you, 'You should not peddle false hope, as you like to. 'Let me make it clear on behalf of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection: the government's strong and consistent border protection policies remain the same. No-one on Manus or Nauru will be resettled in Australia. You would be aware, and we are quite proud, that regional processing is a key pillar of the government's successful border protection policies, with turnbacks where it's safe to do so and temporary protection visas.

Just to remind those in the chamber of the coalition's record when it comes to protecting Australia's borders, there have been over 1,200 days without a boat arrival. There have been zero deaths at sea. We on this side of the chamber, because of our responsible action, have been able to close 17 detention centres, and, as senators are well aware, we have removed all children from detention. Our policies do not change.

The PRESIDENT: Senator McKim, a supplementary question.



Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (14:16): Minister, you've reaffirmed Minister Dutton's previous statement that the government believes you have an enduring need for the Nauru RPC. Therefore, will you categorically rule out your government taking any action to force the hundreds of men, women and children currently in the Nauru RPC out of the centre?


Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:16): Senator McKim, you would know, given your questions on Manus Island, that our answer remains the same. The Australian government, the Nauru government and the PNG government act in accordance with the law. Despite what you might say and despite the allegations you raise, all because you raise something, Senator McKim—

Senator McKim: On a point of order with regard to relevance, Mr President. Firstly, I haven't mentioned Manus Island in my question at all, and, I might add, I had no preamble to either of my questions. Secondly, the question was very specific. It wasn't about lawful or unlawful actions; it was about whether the government was going to take any action to force the men, women and children in the Nauru RPC out of the RPC. That was the only question I asked.

The PRESIDENT: In my view, the minister is being relevant to the question asked. I took notes on the question and I have been listening carefully. It is a broad portfolio matter.

Senator CASH: All because Senator McKim says something to get a headline does not mean it is true. I reaffirm the government's policy: we are not closing the Nauru Regional Processing Centre, despite Senator McKim raising the issue to yet again cause some trouble.

The PRESIDENT: A final supplementary question, Senator McKim.






Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (14:18): Given your abject refusal to answer the question you were just asked, Minister, for clarity I will put it to you again: will you categorically rule out your government taking any action to force the hundreds of men, women and children currently in the Nauru RPC out of the centre? That is not asking you whether or not you're going to close it; it's asking you whether you're going to take that action.

The PRESIDENT: I pause the clock. Senator O'Sullivan on a point of order.

Senator O'Sullivan: The procedure says you cannot ask the same question for a second time. Senator McKim has indicated that's exactly what he was going to do.

The PRESIDENT: In my time in this chamber, while that rule is there, we have allowed senators to rephrase their questions in supplementaries. I treat this is a rephrasing. Senator McKim, please continue your question. I start the clock.

Senator McKIM: I have completed my question and I would appreciate a direct answer from the minister this time.






Senator CASH (Western AustraliaMinister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service, Minister for Employment and Minister for Women) (14:19): I directly refer to my previous answer in answering this question.